Mystery flu 'similar to Covid' leaves dozens critically ill in Argentina with doctors on high alert

Hospital doctors and nurses treat Covid-19 patients in a makeshift ICU wing
Hospital doctors and nurses treat Covid-19 patients in a makeshift ICU wing -Credit:Getty Images

Doctors in Argentina are on high alert due to a mysterious flu-like illness, bearing similarities to Covid-19, that has left many critically ill.

An alert was issued by the international public health surveillance system, ProMed, on April 17 after 60 cases of this unknown disease were reported in Buenos Aires. This is the same database that first alerted authorities to Covid-19 back in late 2019.

The anonymous alert, submitted "via an individual known to ProMed", read: "In the past 30 days, there appears to have been an increase in severe atypical pneumonia requiring critical care in Buenos Aires. The affected individuals are mostly young people without major risk factors."

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While no official statements have been made by Argentinian officials, it's reported that patients have needed mechanical ventilation to help them breathe. Over a third of those affected showed symptoms of psittacosis, a disease caused by a type of chlamydia found in birds.

However, many had no apparent history of contact with birds, the alert noted, reports the Mirror.

Psittacosis, commonly referred to as parrot fever, has caused raised alarms due to its flu-like symptoms that can worsen into pneumonia, posing a significant risk especially to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Meanwhile, despite assurances that the risk is contained, experts quoted by the Daily Mail are pressing health authorities to remain vigilant, cautioning that it's "unlikely this will pose a threat more widely".